M - Museum Leuven
His recent sculptures treat concepts such as order-disruption, activity-inactivity, above-below and positive-negative. The exhibition brings together new and older works.
WHO? Gert Robijns was educated at Sint-Lukas Brussels University College of Art and Design and at Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. He was ‘artist in residence’ at PS1 in New York and at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. Since 2001, he has taught at the KASK in Gent. Robijns’ work has been shown at various national and international exhibitions.
ON-? The title of the exhibition is simply ‘On-‘. ‘On-’ is a prefix that can be placed in front of an enormous number of Dutch words. It signifies a negation. The addition of ‘on-‘ changes the meaning of a word entirely. Logical becomes illogical, interesting becomes uninteresting, sense becomes nonsense. The reversal of meaning is highly characteristic of Robijns’ oeuvre. He applies it to the objects he uses in his installations.
INSTALLATIONS & ENVIRONMENTS Gert Robijns’ works can best be described as installations. They are sculptures that occupy the space. It is insufficient to stand still to see an entire installation. One must move around to absorb the whole work. If an installation takes up a large portion of the space, it may also be called an ‘environment’. In contrast to admiring a painting, the visitor must necessarily be active. One must look at an installation from various sides. It is thus necessary that you roam around the space. The artist also expects you to be active when you look at his work. If you do not, you might miss some of things there are to see.
ROWS AND SERIES As you have undoubtedly noticed, Robijns often exhibits his objects in rows or series. He thereby challenges you to discover the relationship between the objects and to decipher twin concepts. One almost starts looking for the interrelations between the objects unconsciously. Which twin concepts do you recognise? Above vs. below? Sender vs. receiver? Empty vs. full? Negative vs. positive? Which additional twin concepts can you create? Or do the objects have anything else in common? Their colour, for example? Their form? Or their function?
HORIZON(TAL) The result of placing objects in series is that they create a line. This line is often horizontal. In order to describe constructions like this, we use the term linear composition. This line in Robijns’ work obviously refers to the horizon, but also to conveyor belts, for example.
TILTING Robijns tilts his objects, moves them, turns them over, destabilises them. The objects become unbalanced. They show you a side that you would not normally see. A side you are not accustomed to. It forces you to look at the objects literally from a different angle.
EVERYDAY The objects Robijns uses in his installations come from nature or are everyday items. In the art world, they are referred to as Objets Trouvés [found objects]: they are ordinary, banal, everyday, inconspicuous objects that give one the impression that they were ‘simply’ found.
ALIENATING Robijns places the everyday objects in a totally different and unexpected context. They are juxtaposed in rows of objects with which they have no connection in daily life. The objects thus lose the meaning and the function by which you would otherwise recognise them. This has a very alienating effect.
Because the object has lost its actual function, you might now focus your attention on very different characteristics. Such as the colour or the form. You look at the objects through different eyes.
COLOUR White, black and shades of grey are the ‘colours’ that recur most often in Robijns’ work. As a result, the tones he does use here and there are especially noticeable. The yellow of a canary, the green of a cucumber or the blue of a bin bag draw extra attention.
THE VILLAGE If you visit Limburg, you must be sure to visit Robijns’ installation ‘The Village’ in Sint-Truiden, where the artist has built a scale copy of his native village Gotem. The project is an expression of his nostalgia for his own youth, but it is also a tribute to his grandfather.